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Sarasota County Asks Justices To Reconsider Indigent Care Ruling

Florida Supreme Court
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Sarasota County on Tuesday asked the Florida Supreme Court to reconsider a ruling in favor of private hospitals in a long-running dispute about payments for care of indigent patients.

Attorneys for the county filed an 11-page motion for rehearing in the case, which could involve hundreds of millions of dollars in payments.

The Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision July 6, upheld a state law that directed Sarasota County to reimburse private hospitals for providing care to indigent patients. In doing so, justices overturned an appeals-court ruling that said part of a 2003 law was unconstitutional because it singled out private hospitals in Sarasota County.

The 2003 measure was passed as what is known as a “special law,” dealing only with Sarasota County, rather than a general law that would apply to hospitals throughout the state.

The Supreme Court majority agreed with arguments by private hospitals that the 2003 law did not violate the Florida Constitution because it also applied to reimbursements to a Sarasota County public hospital district.